So far this season, part of the Giants pitching has been backwards.
Barry Zito has pitched like Tim Lincecum, and Tim Lincecum has pitched like Barry Zito.
However, on Wednesday in Milwaukee, the Zito of old returned.
Zito got tagged for eight runs in the first two innings by the Brewers, although only four of them were earned.
While defensive issues did not help, Zito certainly put tons of kindling on the pile before it exploded on him.
He walked Corey Hart to open the game, then committed an error when Norichika Aoki attempted to bunt Hart to second. Then he walked Ryan Braun to load the bases. Aramis Ramirez then spanked the first pitch he saw from Zito into left center for a three-run double.
A hot shot off the bat on Jonathan Lucroy bounced off Brandon Crawford for another error on the Giants shortstop, although Crawford claimed the shadows caused by how the roof at Miller Park was left opened caused him to not see the ball properly (a legitimate claim).
After another walk to Rickie Weeks, Zito got the first out of the inning on a strikeout of Carlos Gomez. But a groundout by Cesar Izturis plated another run. Then pitcher Marco Estrada doubled home two more runs on a ball that should have been caught by third baseman Joaquin Arias, but that Arias said he never saw (again, the shadows).
The Giants were hurt in the first inning by the shadows. The rest of the game they were hurt by the shadowy figures in blue — the umpires.
In the second, the Brewers made it 8-0 on a two-run homer by Lucroy. But that blast was preceded by an infield single by Aoki in which replays indicated that Zito beat Aoki to the bag while covering first, yet Aoki was called safe. If the umpire Eric Cooper gets the call right, Lucroy does not bat in the inning.
Cooper later hurt the Giants again when replays show that Brandon Belt beat the pitcher covering on an infield grounder, yet Cooper called him out.
Even so, the Giants kept the game entertaining because the bullpen trio of Shane Loux, Steve Edlefsen and Clay Hensley pitched five shutout innings of relief. The Giants bullpen was outstanding in the series in Milwaukee.
The Giants got closer in the third on a three-run double by Hector Sanchez (which was aided by the way by another blown call by the umps). On a side note: commissioner Bud Selig again reiterated that he has no plans of expanding instant replay. Hey Bud! Maybe you should spend more time in your home park.
They got two more in the fourth on an RBI single by Brandon Crawford and RBI double by Melky Cabrera.
But that’s where the scoring stopped, hindered by a season-high 15 strikeouts by the Giants. Seven of those strikeouts were called strike threes, as home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg was calling strikes on pitches so low they would have been too low if thrown to Eddie Gaedel.
Of course, all of these issues would have been minimized if Zito hadn’t started that fire in the first inning.
So if Zito is going to pitch like Zito, is it too much to ask for Lincecum to pitch like Lincecum?
The Giants open a four-game set in Miami on Thursday with Ryan Vogelsong facing Anibal Sanchez at 4 p.m. Thursday.